San Francisco Packing List: What to Bring & What to Skip

September 1, 2017

Instead of being unprepared (and cold), use our ultimate San Francisco packing list. Plus, we’ll tell you what to skip so your suitcase isn’t stuffed to the brim!

If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco, your first thought might be to shove as many shorts and tank tops as possible into your suitcase. Nope! Think again. San Francisco is located on a bay, meaning the area tends to experience cooler temperatures and wind year round.

What to Pack for a San Francisco Vacation

Knowing what to bring to San Francisco all depends on the season. The winter and spring seasons experience highs in the upper 60s and cool nights. However, in the summer months, you’d think a day in sunny California would be scorching hot, but not in San Francisco. From late May to late August, temperatures are still in the low 70s, if that.

For a warm vacation, visit San Francisco during their “Indian Summer” from September to November. During this season, temperatures can reach upwards of 80 degrees or higher.

With this information in mind, add these items to your San Francisco packing list:


The top packing mistake visitors make is with their choice of clothing. Remember to check the weather for your intended vacation dates and pack away!

We recommend bringing the following clothing items on your trip to San Francisco:

  • Tank Tops
  • Shirts
  • Jeans
  • Under Garments
  • Sweatshirts/Sweaters
  • A Light Jacket
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes
  • Socks
  • Sandals, if traveling during warmer months
  • Active Wear
  • Bathing Suit
  • Pajamas
  • Sun Dress
  • Jewelry/Accessories

The vibe around San Francisco tends to be more professional than laid back. However, you don’t need to pack your finest attire, even if you’re planning a special night out. A nice pair of jeans and top will work just fine!

Remember to pack outfits you can layer. Being on the bay, San Francisco weather can be a bit unpredictable. One minute you could be comfortable, and the next, a bit cold. Having a sweatshirt or light jacket at all times will alleviate this.


As with any vacation, you’ll want to pack the essentials:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Eyewear
  • Personal Medications
  • Hair Brush
  • Hair Products
  • Make-up

If you happen to forget something, don’t worry! Most San Francisco hotels will be able to provide you with whatever you forgot. In addition, several convenience stores are located around the city for you to visit at your leisure.


For the best possible San Francisco vacation, you’ll want to also pack these miscellaneous items:

  • Phone
  • Phone Charger
  • External Battery
  • Camera
  • Camera Charger
  • Headphones
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Scarf (During cooler months)
  • A Day Pack or Purse
  • Refillable Water Bottle
  • Emergency Cash

From taking pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge to exploring Muir Woods, these items will come in handy throughout your trip.

What Not to Bring to San Francisco

Nobody likes to haul around heavy luggage. Plus, no one wants to be the person who can’t lift their carry-on luggage into the overhead compartment. To eliminate over-packing (and any subsequent embarrassment as a result), skip packing these items:


Pack shorts at your own discretion. If you’re the person who is always warm, then by all means bring shorts. However, you won’t need them during most months in San Francisco.

Fancy Attire
Leave the ball gown and tuxedo at home. While San Francisco attire is professional and classy, it is also quite relaxed.

Flip Flops
Unless you’re visiting during the Indian Summer, you’ll likely only need a pair of tennis shoes, sandals, and flats.

Winter Attire
Yes, it’s chilly. But it’s not that cold. Leave the winter jackets, mittens, and hats at home. You don’t want that bulky attire filling up your luggage!


We’ve all seen the families at the airport who try to bring a month’s worth of toiletries through security. Don’t be these people. In fact, don’t bring any of these items at all:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Hair Dryer
  • Towels

Why? Because your hotel will provide them! No need to cart them around when they’re waiting for you in San Francisco.


Yes, it’s possible it will rain during your trip to California. However, there’s a reason an umbrella didn’t make our San Francisco packing list. The reason being, it’s bulky and difficult to travel with. If you pack a rain jacket, you’ll be just fine. Although if you must have an umbrella, visit a store upon arrival to purchase one.

Bike Helmet
You might have heard that San Francisco is a bike-friendly city. While this is quite true, you don’t need to pack your own bike helmet. The bike rental companies and bike tours throughout the city all provide and/or rent out helmets for customers. Even the Segway tours offer helmets!

This item is also at your discretion. If you’re traveling for work or creative purposes, pack that laptop. But if you’re on vacation, disconnect for a bit and immerse yourself in all that San Francisco has to offer.

Add to Our San Francisco Packing List

Did you just get back from a trip to San Francisco? Was there anything you wished you brought or left at home? Add to our San Francisco packing list in the comments below!

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